Nabakalebara – Odisha

An ancient ritual performed at the Jagannath Temple, Puri in Odisha, it signifies the re-embodiment of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The Gods adorn new bodies at the end of the ritual which is observed once in twelve to nineteen years. The last time it was observed was in 1996. This year, ie 2015, the observance started with the Banajaga Yatra on 29th March 2015. The idols are made of Daru wood and they undergo much wear and tear over a period of time, so they need to be re-embodied. This is a lengthy process and is known as Nabakalebara.

Any year which has two months (Adhika masa) of Ashadha as per the Hindu Calendar is auspicious for conducting this ceremony. This usually occurs every twelve to nineteen years. The idols are made from a special type of Neem wood known as Daru Brahma. The actual preparations for the ceremony start in the month of Chaitra. The Banajaga Yatra is the first of the rituals, where sevaks start on the expedition to identify the holy trees from which the idols would eventually be carved. The trees have to be of different hues, dark one for Lord Jagannath and lighter ones for the other deities.

The transfer of the soul from the old to the new bodies would take place in the midnight of June 15th 2015 after which the deities would be ready for granting darshan to the devotees from 17th July. The Rath Yatra this year would have the new idols.

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